Si­mon Kid­ston

In his last col­umn, Si­mon dis­cusses the up­side of in­evitable au­to­ma­tion

Classic Cars (UK) - - Contents - Si­mon Kid­ston is a clas­sic car con­sul­tant, con­cours judge and event pre­sen­ter. His own clas­sics in­clude a Lam­borgh­ini Miura SV and Porsche 911 RS 2.7.

So that’s it. The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment has an­nounced that from 2040 no new petrol or diesel cars will be sold in the UK. In­stead, we’ll all be whoosh­ing around in bat­tery­pow­ered boxes, and soon enough they won’t even need us to drive them. Think about how much less driver in­volve­ment there is now com­pared to 50 or even ten years ago and ask your­self if that’s such a bad thing af­ter all. Sure, there’s less noise, but most mod­erns sound rub­bish any­way. More use­fully, you don’t have to read a map, fid­dle with levers to get the right tem­per­a­ture, watch gauges like a hawk, judge park­ing ex­trem­i­ties while heav­ing a two-ton steer­ing wheel, or learn Origami to put up your soft top.

If your daily drive was in a Fer­rari Cal’ Spi­der along the Amalfi coast, you might miss the sen­sory experience. But most com­mutes are around the M25, so leav­ing the has­sle to Robochauf­feur sounds like progress. If in doubt, ask how many clas­sic car deal­ers drive one ev­ery day.

Which of course brings us to the big ques­tion. Where does this land­mark an­nounce­ment leave clas­sics? Con­fined to the cin­ema, along with petrol pumps and road trips? Imag­ine the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed cel­e­brat­ing its 50th an­niver­sary in si­lence, the whirring Priuses and Tes­las drowned out by the thun­der of hooves on earth at the neigh­bour­ing horserac­ing track. Re­stor­ers, auc­tion­eers, deal­ers and bro­kers (heaven for­bid) forced out of busi­ness, and the sound of a V12 at full chat just a tale passed down from grand­fa­ther to grand­son before fi­nally be­ing for­got­ten. It conjures up the Statue of Lib­erty washed up on a beach cen­turies from now in The Planet Of The Apes.

Yet, some­how, I don’t think so. The for­mer chair­man of a well-known su­per­car maker once pointed out to me, af­ter a provoca­tive dig I’d made as com­men­ta­tor at the rel­e­vance of his lat­est 200mph of­fer­ing, that a cen­tury ago we all trav­elled by horse. Who does now? And yet to­day the best of the breed are as cov­eted, and far more valu­able, than our an­ces­tors could ever have imag­ined. Cre­ated with fa­nat­i­cal at­ten­tion to ev­ery ge­netic de­tail in the quest for per­fec­tion, pam­pered like four-legged rock stars, raced for pride and pas­sion, traded amongst a for­tu­nate few – and of zero prac­ti­cal use. Sound fa­mil­iar?

It feels like time for a change here too. Af­ter nearly a decade I’m leav­ing you in the hands of bril­liant fel­low colum­nists like Gor­don Murray who have so much to share. Be­ing part of the Clas­sic Cars fam­ily has been a great experience and I can’t count how many read­ers have spon­ta­neously in­tro­duced them­selves at events as a re­sult. You’ve fol­lowed my quest for fam­ily cars – still go­ing strong, and one up re­cently thanks to this magazine (a Porsche 911S) – and the twists and turns of one of the most colour­ful busi­nesses to work in. One day I’ll get a proper job, but that’s un­likely before 2040.

It’s al­ways been about the peo­ple – meet­ing hero driv­ers, leg­endary de­sign­ers, play­boy first own­ers, hum­ble but uniquely tal­ented re­stor­ers, ‘to­tal recall’ his­to­ri­ans and, above all, the de­voted en­thu­si­asts who keep this world alive. On that note, I’m off for a drive.

Colum­nist Si­mon bids us farewell – with quite the choice of ma­chin­ery in which to drive off into the sun­set

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